KKR 2015

[KKR2015] Day 1 of the Rally

A section of the track (image supplied). A section of the track (image supplied).

We were feeling quite confident today after the end of our first day. We started with a 75k 'transport' which is basically intended to get you to the start of the first rally stage. And what a first stage it was! A class 3 which means an average speed of about 70kph for just under 70k. We thought we completed this stage maybe a minute too fast... Then a short transport to the beginning of a very harrowing stage - a class 3 again but 88k and some unbelievable holes, gutters, rough creek crossings, humps, dips, rocks and sand, not to mention the cattle, horses and yes a dingo! At one point in this stage there was actually air under all four wheels as we hit an unexpected hump and literally took off! Some Kars behind us got caught in the sand and had to be pulled out by other Kars. At the end of this stage, which we thought we had been a couple of minutes slow on, we had lunch at Ross River. We then headed back out on another 54k transport to face the last stage of the day - a class 1 (85kph average) for 158k. Once again, we thought we had done ok finishing within a minute of the expected average time. We then head back to the hotel where we have to report to Admin with our time cards, so they know everyone is safe.

Navigator instructions! Navigator instructions!

As we had a couple of hours to spare before dinner, I busied myself with laundry and repacking ready to check out in the morning. Ken went to attend to a couple of windscreen chips we had acquired during the course of the day, refuel the Kar ready for tomorrow etc. On his return he discovered we had a tyre that was very low. We pumped it up only to find it flat again after dinner. No time to get it repaired before we head out in the morning so a couple of young Rallytives changed it tonight for us. We still have one good spare up our sleeve, but will try to get it seen to in Coober Pedy in a couple of days - hopefully we will manage until then!

Dinner was outside by the pool this evening but it was very chilly so it finished early for which we were grateful given how tired we are after the first day. But the delays by so many Kars over the course of the day in sand etc meant that the average times for the day were significantly different from what we had expected, so we ended up being scored 2 mins early, 8 mins early, 4 mins early across the three stages and ranked 24th for the day - not quite as we would have hoped but there are still plenty of days to go!

[KKR2015] Scrutineering, Registration & the Official Start Dinner 

Checking the first aid kit Checking the first aid kit

So...at 9am we lined up for scrutineering - all checked off and good to go. Then into registration where we sign our lives away and pick up our badges etc so that we can be identified and returned to Kidney Health Australia in the event we get lost!

We then head out to the highway to do a distance check so we can calibrate our Terratrip. We had to make the run a few times to get it accurate after our first run being 20 metres out. There was a seriously happy High 5 once we got it!

In the afternoon a group of Kars headed out to Bradshaw Primary School for the kids to see the Kars close up. They were pretty excited and loved the KKR Medallions and red jelly beans we gave them! We had to leave the school in time to get back for our 2.30 briefing from the Road Director who goes through all the rules and behaviours expected throughout the rally. It is at this briefing that we all receive our Road Books. These are our 'bibles' for the next few days - apart from providing us with all the directions for the rally it is full of everything else we may need to know during the course of the next 10 days. Once we have the Road Book, the navigators spend a fair bit of time going through page by page highlighting dangers and calculating times for intervals in each section.

Kids getting red jelly beans and Kidney Kar Rally Medallions! Kids getting red jelly beans and Kidney Kar Rally Medallions!

At 7pm we began the official dinner. There are several speakers, a little entertainment, a video message from the Kidney Kids and then the announcement of the highest fundraisers. We were thrilled to be ranked 7th highest this year against some very stiff competition! This means that every day, we start the rally in 7th position. Overall the rally has so far raised $700,000 this year, a massive 40% up on last year! Well done to all those who worked hard to raise funds and to all our supporters! After the dinner is the charity auction - always entertaining and another bundle of money raised from the Rallytives for the Kidney Kids!

We made it into the local paper! We made it into the local paper!

So an early start on Day 1 tomorrow - wish us luck!

[KKR2015] Scrutineering, Registration & the Official Start Dinner 

Checking the first aid kit Checking the first aid kit

So...at 9am we lined up for scrutineering - all checked off and good to go. Then into registration where we sign our lives away and pick up our badges etc so that we can be identified and returned to Kidney Health Australia in the event we get lost!

We then head out to the highway to do a distance check so we can calibrate our Terratrip. We had to make the run a few times to get it accurate after our first run being 20 metres out. There was a seriously happy High 5 once we got it!

In the afternoon a group of Kars headed out to Bradshaw Primary School for the kids to see the Kars close up. They were pretty excited and loved the KKR Medallions and red jelly beans we gave them! We had to leave the school in time to get back for our 2.30 briefing from the Road Director who goes through all the rules and behaviours expected throughout the rally. It is at this briefing that we all receive our Road Books. These are our 'bibles' for the next few days - apart from providing us with all the directions for the rally it is full of everything else we may need to know during the course of the next 10 days. Once we have the Road Book, the navigators spend a fair bit of time going through page by page highlighting dangers and calculating times for intervals in each section.

Kids getting red jelly beans and Kidney Kar Rally Medallions! Kids getting red jelly beans and Kidney Kar Rally Medallions!

At 7pm we began the official dinner. There are several speakers, a little entertainment, a video message from the Kidney Kids and then the announcement of the highest fundraisers. We were thrilled to be ranked 7th highest this year against some very stiff competition! This means that every day, we start the rally in 7th position. Overall the rally has so far raised $700,000 this year, a massive 40% up on last year! Well done to all those who worked hard to raise funds and to all our supporters! After the dinner is the charity auction - always entertaining and another bundle of money raised from the Rallytives for the Kidney Kids!

We made it into the local paper! We made it into the local paper!

So an early start on Day 1 tomorrow - wish us luck!

[KKR2015] Final Preparations and Official Unveiling of Kar 888!

Simpson's Gap. Simpson's Gap.

A few last minute things we needed to deal with today before scrutineering tomorrow...D shackles in lieu of tow balls, 5 litres of water, fill spare petrol can etc, so we thought we would take the morning off to take in some of the nearby tourist spots.

We began at Ellery's Creek Big Hole - what a magnificent waterhole - an oasis in the middle of so much dryness. We then went to Standley's Chasm and walked the kilometre along the rocky creek bed to reach the it. We had to ensure we were there by 12 noon to see the Chasm light up as the sun reached its peak! Another fantastic experience indeed! Walked back along the creek bed to the Kar and headed off to Simpson's Gap for a peak at another wonderful sight. So in the space of a single morning we were spoiled to see so many natural and beautiful wonders!

Headed back into Alice, managed to get all our bits and pieces done and headed off to Lasseter's again for dinner. By now most of the Rally Krews have arrived in town, so Lasseter's was the place to be! Once again, great to catch up with so many Rallytives! Scrutineering and Registration starts at 9am tomorrow!

Meanwhile, the new wrap of our rally Kar has been unveiled! We should probably explain...a couple of years back, we came up with the idea of having the Kar design created by the Kidney Kids themselves. It has taken us a bit of time to get it done but here it is! We asked Kidney Health Australia if one of the activities at this years Kidney Kids Camp could be painting. And so it began... The kids did paintings of Kars, roads, kidneys and also did lots of handprints! After the camp, we got the paintings and our designer set _DSC2630to work on laying them out into a graphic design that would be suitable for our Kar. He also incorporated some of the photographs of the kids themselves at the camp. He did an amazing job and with some help from our friends at SignPro in Ringwood, the Kar wrap was completed the day before we left Melbourne!

The feedback we have had so far has been amazing. Certainly those Rallytives who have seen it have all been very positive and extremely complimentary. The primary colours used by the kids for the paintings themselves have provided a very bright design. It is certainly attracting lots of attention as we drive around!

Until tomorrow...!

[KKR2015] The Kidney Kar Revealed!

_DSC2670 The farewell wave from the Downies krew!

Each year Kar 888 gets a facelift, with new decals designed & printed, with the whole kar given a loving polish. This year has been no exception, with the final look just superb!

With the Rally start just 2 days away, we'd thought now would be the perfect time to reveal out the kar's great new look... before it gets covered in dust and dirt!

What do you think of the look this year?

_DSC2644 _DSC2640 _DSC2637 _DSC2630

[KKR2015] Alice Springs - Rest Day!

Rest day!

So today was pretty much a 'no drive' day...yay! Started the day with breakfast then got busy doing laundry, fiddling with the Kar, removing everything from it to make sure everything was ready for scrutineering on Tuesday morning etc etc (scrutineering is where the kar gets inspected to make sure we have all the correct safety equipment and other bits and pieces on board and it is all current and in working order).

We then took the kar down to the local car wash and gave her a good spit and polish - she is looking pretty flash I must say! I will try to post some images soon. Being Sunday, there wasn't much open in Alice, but we found a nice cafe for lunch and then headed back to the hotel to repackage some of the gear from the kar that we won't need for a few days so we will be transferring to the Gear Truck on Tuesday.

As the afternoon progressed, more of our Rallytives arrived. The greetings are always warm and friendly and it is great to catch up with these people once again! There have been some dramas for some of the Kars getting here and we are all hopeful they can be resolved in time for the start.

[KKR2015] Uluru to Alice Springs

Uluru at sunrise Uluru at sunrise

With just a tad over 500 kms today, the drive seemed relatively short! We could afford a pretty easy day today with less driving ahead, but we were up early to head back out to Uluru to watch the sun rise against the rock. Once again we weren't disappointed, but I have to say I thought the sunset was much more spectacular! Still, this was great to see and of course you are seeing another side of the rock itself. After the sunrise, we drove around to where we could get up close and personal (while remaining respectful) to the rock - I don't know why, but I just wanted to touch it, which I did. Some of the messages posted about Uluru were a tad confusing - on the one hand you are not allowed to climb the rock but on the other hand, if you choose to do so, please take extreme care as 35 people have lost their lives attempting to climb it! Then on one side of the rock we came upon a chain guide rail that climbed from the base to the top for you to use if you did climb!

We then returned to our apartment to pack the car and check out. We decided we should go out to see the Olgas as they were relatively close by. We had also wanted to go to Kings Canyon but decided that would have to wait for our next trip to the centre. We wanted to be in Alice Springs tonight so after viewing the Olgas we headed back to the Stuart Highway and Erldunda, where we refuelled and had a quick bite. When we pulled up to get fuel we had to wait in line...wait for it...behind 2 Lamborghinis, an Aston Martin, a McLaren, a Porsche and a Ferrari!!! What on earth were these magnificent cars doing way

Nice cars! Nice cars!

out here? Apparently they come to the Territory for the open speed limits, so they can really drive those cars at the speeds they are capable of!!! Clearly boys and their toys with a need for speed!!!

So we departed Erldunda and headed towards Alice. We arrived at our hotel by about 4pm, checked in, unpacked and acclimatised ourselves to what will be our home base for the next few days. A quiet dinner in the hotel and an early night is definitely on the cards!

The Olgas in the background of Uluru! The Olgas in the background of Uluru!

[KKR2015] Coober Pedy to Uluru

Sunrise departure from Coober Pedy Sunrise departure from Coober Pedy

A 6.45 am start from the centre of Coober Pedy this morning to begin today's long drive... Our first stop was at Marla for breakfast. The drive then continued until we hit the South Australia/Northern Territory border where we stopped for a brief comfort stop and a couple of photos. We then proceeded to Erldunda, which is where the turn off is to Uluru. Refuelling, we caught up with the boys from the Bathurst Surf Lifesaving Club (Kar 8) who had driven from Bathurst to Coober Pedy in one hit the previous day!

Welcome to the Northern Territory! Welcome to the Northern Territory!

After a bite to eat we made the turn towards Uluru. The most amusing vision of the day was a long line of old tractors being driven in the opposite direction to us. Apparently they had already come from Boulder WA and were hoping to reach Alice Springs by 23 August!!! It was the Harry Ferguson Tractor Trek apparently...we were only grateful that our vehicles could move at a somewhat faster pace and had the luxury of air conditioning!

A magnificent sight! And the rock's okay, I guess. A magnificent sight! And the rock's okay, I guess.

Our first sighting of Uluru was one of awe. Seeing this for the first time from a distance, made us realise just how massive it is. We checked in to our apartment at Emu Walk, unpacked the car and then took off to the rock to watch the sunset. We were shepherded into a parking spot by some of the control teams from the rally who had positioned themselves beautifully to get a superb view. Wow! Wow! Wow! What an absolutely amazing sight! And so many people there to see the sunset and watch the rock change colour. The colour in the sky around it as the sun set was just as amazing! Just some incredibly beautiful hues.

So after some 730 km today, it was a quiet night for us with some pizza and pasta in our apartment. Tomorrow morning we are waking early to catch sunrise at the rock...

2015-08-07 XX Uluru Breathtaking

[KKR2015] Adelaide to Coober Pedy

Hello Coober Pedy! Hello Coober Pedy!

This may prove to be one of our longest days based on distance travelled over the course of this journey - 850 kms over 10 hours including a few stops along the way. We left Adelaide at 6.50am and made it as far as Port Wakefield before we needed to stop for a coffee. I then drove as far as Port Augusta - a very busy metropolis indeed! Picked up some lunch to eat along the way while Ken refuelled and took back the driver's seat to take us as far as Glendambo where we stopped for another refuel and an ice cream! I then drove from Glendambo until we were about 50km out of Coober Pedy.

We stopped in a rest area to change drivers and found two backpackers who had broken down in their van. One guy from Belgium and the other from the Netherlands. Our friend from Kar 250 used his expertise with dual fuel vehicles to help them out. Meanwhile as I returned to our Kar to get a jacket, I noticed the inside of the back of their van...the walls were covered with pictures of Eric Bana...naked!! Should we have been concerned? Perhaps, but fortunately our friend managed to get them started again quite quickly and we simply followed them the rest of the way to Coober Pedy just to make sure they got there ok! Still, the pictures  are still very clear in my mind!

An icon of the Australian outback. An icon of the Australian outback.

So today was all about the driving. We saw many, many dry lakes, a few very, very long trains, many very long road trains, a family of emus, a lot of very flat stretches of land as well as the incredible area around Woomera - the Woomera Prohibited Area to be precise - I had no idea how huge the Weapons Testing Range actually was and how much land it covered.

A quiet dinner close by our motel tonight and an early start in the morning to make sure we are settled in at Uluru before sunset!

[KKR2015] On the road - Melbourne to Adelaide

Leaving the city! Leaving the city of Melbourne!

Below is an update from Kathryn Downie, as she and Ken head out of the city and toward the start of the Kidney Kar Rally for 2015!

And so the journey begins...after packing the Kar last night and doing a final check to make sure we had everything we are required to have for the rally, we left home at 7.10 this morning. Got as far as Ararat before needing a coffee and a bathroom! After a very short stop, we changed drivers and continued on our way. Somewhere around Lexton the GPS sent us on an interesting detour...but we continued doing as she told us and ended up where we were supposed to be, so no dramas!

Decided to stop for refreshment in Tailem Bend and happened upon Kar 250 from Bendigo, who were doing likewise, so enjoyed a quick catch up with them. (We will meet them north of Adelaide tomorrow and convoy to Coober Pedy). But we made it to Adelaide in good time, had no issues with the Kar, and managed to remain relatively relaxed - that won't last long! So 752 kilometres down, several thousand to go! Tonight we meet up with one of our favourite past employees for dinner! Looking forward to catching up with her and her family before an early start for the long drive tomorrow.

Kath's view of Ken for the next few weeks! Kath's view of Ken for the next few weeks!

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